There's no reason to limit the "outstanding" OS to only HP hardware, said Leo Apotheker, speaking at the All Things Digital Conference. HP picked up webOS in its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm.
"I happen to believe that webOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system," he said in an on-stage interview.
"So there's no reason to believe that the only hardware that could run it are HP's.
"Therefore, why wouldn't we try to make it available to other people," he said, saying such partners need not be hardware makers in "the classical IT sense", but could include appliance manufacturers, for example.
"We'd like to make webOS available to these people, just as we're going to make webOS available to enterprises or indeed to SMBs to create whatever kind of environment within their own firewall," he said.
"From that perspective, yes, webOS will be running on more than just inside or on top of a particular type of piece of hardware that HP will make."
Asked if HP would let rivals use the OS, such as allowing handset maker HTC make a webOS phone, Apotheker said: "That is certainly something that we would entertain."
HP has previously said its OS will ship on its PCs, alongside Windows.
At the conference, Apotheker reiterated those plans: "It will go on every PC that we’ll ship ... in the beginning, webOS will sit on top of Windows. But the intention is to get it out there on every PC.”
Across Palm handsets, HP printers and PCs, and the TouchPad tablet, Apotheker said the webOS ecosystem would have 100 to 110 million devices a year.